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How One Swiss Watch Brand Is Reminding Its Retailers They Are Important

Hamilton offered an experience to remember.

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BACK IN EARLY OCTOBER, I was invited as a guest of Hamilton watches – a Swatch Group brand – to fly to Indianapolis for the next-to-last leg of the 2018 edition of the Red Bull Air Race. Hamilton serves as the official timekeeping sponsor of the race, which after being launched in 2003 has turned into an international event with eight race stages held in different parts of the world throughout the year, starting in February and ending in November. This year, the last two stages were competed on U.S. soil: the October event, which I attended, and, the final event in Fort Worth, TX. What I had not realized when I arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, however, was that I’d be the only U.S. journalist in a group of watch and jewelry retailers, which to me said a lot about how the brand wants to be perceived by those who sell it.

It is not a secret to anyone in our industry that the Swatch Group pulled all of its 18 brands out of the 2019 edition of the Baselworld jewelry and watch fair. I even wrote a piece covering the news on this very website not too long ago. But it’s also not news that the decision has left many to wonder what is next for the group and the brands that operate under its umbrella. That is why in the interim, watch companies like Hamilton are doing all they can to keep their name in the limelight, while making sure that their customers – and writers like moi who cover the brand – stay happy.

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My Red Bull Air Race journey included something called the Red Bull G-Flight Experience. If it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to do immediately after a three-course lunch, you’d be 100 percent correct. But my PR contact at Hamilton knew that I wasn’t a G-Flight virgin, as I’d completed a similar flight with a different RBAR pilot (representing a different watch brand) about a year prior, and I was eager to get back in the air.

Hamilton Watches presented me with my own Top Gun-esque flight suit before reading me my last righ … err, going over the safety instructions and introducing me to the pilot who’d be taking me through the experience. This was clearly something they’d done in the past and most certainly something they want people to remember. I mean, think about it: If you’re a retailer with a decent social media following and/or a website and you come back from something like this WITH VIDEO PROOF (yes, my experience is up on YouTube for all the world to see), how awesome is that going to look to your customers? Heck, I look like a heroine to my kids after doing it, so imagine what it could do for a retailer’s image!

But the G-Flight Experience was only a small part of the proverbial red carpet which was rolled out by the team at Hamilton watches. When I arrived at the VIP tent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I was ushered over to the private Hamilton section for lunch and champagne. This is where I met and spoke with retail representatives such as Lane Schiffman with Schiffman’s – a well-established jeweler with three doors in North Carolina – as well as folks from Safa Jewelers in New Jersey, DeVries in Michigan, Moyer Fine Jewelers in Indiana, and Schwarzschild Keller & George in Virginia, to name a few. Everyone wore a different Hamilton watch and all were happy to be right in front of where the race action was taking place. Guests of the brand were also treated to a tour of the speedway’s famous “Pagoda” as well as a meet-and-greet with the three Red Bull Air Race pilots who are the brand’s Ambassadors: Nicolas Ivanoff of France, Pete McLeod of Canada, and Juan Velarde of Spain.

The two-day event was topped off each night with a beautiful dining experience and drinks, not to mention celebratory camaraderie thanks to Hamilton’s McLeod and Ivanoff walking away with the trophies for second and third place for the Indy leg.

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All in all, the experience left me feeling hopeful that watch brands who still very much care about their retail partners are willing to do what it takes to demonstrate their value. I’ve spoken to retailers who feel that more watch brands are going the route of opening their own boutiques, leaving the brick-and-mortar stores – whom they largely needed at one time – out in the cold. But on the flip side, there are some retailers who haven’t always been good at upholding their end of the business bargain.

Still, if we work together – meaning the wholesaler, retailer, designer and brand – realizing that our end game is the same, we will not only be able to keep this industry afloat, but may even get the chance to see it skyrocket. Wishful thinking, I know, but what do you expect from a writer with her head in the clouds?

 

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Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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Jimmy DeGroot

Be Ready for ‘What Do You Have for $100?’ and Other Holiday Questions

As Christmas approaches, the queries you’ll hear from customers are actually pretty predictable, says jewelry store training expert Jimmy DeGroot. Here's how to make sure your team is prepared for the more common ones.

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Commentary: The Business

Hear Those Jingle Bells? They’re Also Wedding Bells

Hiding among the holiday crowds is a key customer who doesn’t want to be rushed.

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This story was originally published in the December 2011 edition of INSTORE.

THAT RINGING in your ears is jingle bells! Jewelers around the country are in the midst of the most important selling season of the year. According to J. Walter Thompson, the holiday selling season accounts for nearly 22 percent of annual diamond sales in the United States, meaning it’s still crucial to a successful year for retail jewelers.

Retailers invest months preparing for the season, not to mention dollars! Marketing, merchandising, packaging, special events, and sales training must all be in place.

The other ringing you hear is wedding bells! There is a vital statistic lurking inside that 22 percent number of which you should be aware: various studies show that about 25 percent of engagements occur during the fourth quarter in the U.S., making your diamond bridal business a key part of holiday sales.

Here’s the critical point: amid all the busy-ness of the season, don’t overlook this essential category. Make a list and check it twice. Focus on two important areas: Diamond inventory and the particular temperament of the engagement-ring shopper.

From an inventory/merchandise perspective, jewelers should be over-prepared and ready to present a wealth of options and styles to the engagementring customer. The adage that one can’t sell from an empty wagon applies! Savvy consumers will have scoured the Internet and other retail stores and seen hundreds of ring styles. Their jeweler of choice will have to provide options!

Engagement-ring customers are not the typical Christmas shopper. They are often walking into your store for the first time after, on average, three months of shopping (according to The Knot 2011 Engagement and Jewelry Study). This consumer is not preoccupied with getting a package under the tree, but rather with making one of the most important purchases of their lifetime. They require your full attention and will not respond well to being rushed just because it’s Christmas and you’re busy. Sales associates must be prepared to give the engagement-ring shopper the time and attention they require.

When making your “list,” be sure to include a training session or two to ready your sales staff to effectively engage the wedding-ring customer during the holiday season. Train them to change gears for this consumer so they don’t feel rushed or under-served. Use all the resources at your disposal to ensure an impressive engagement-ring inventory that will excite your customer. Make sure your collection of loose diamonds includes a good number of 1-carat diamonds, and if possible, have a 2 to 3 carat on hand. Overnight and “in time” inventory is great, but sometimes you can’t make the sale if you don’t have the goods!

That ringing in your ears is jingle bells and wedding bells playing two distinctly different but profitable tunes during this Christmas selling season!

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Dave Richardson

Why Attitude Is More Important Than Experience When Hiring

Hire for attitude rather than just experience.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: The key question in hiring a new sales associate is, can this person sell? The second question is, does this person have any jewelry sales experience?

PLAN OF ACTION: Be careful hiring someone with jewelry experience, particularly if that experience comes from different stores over a number of years.

My philosophy has always been this: it is easier to train a good salesperson to sell jewelry than to train someone who knows jewelry how to sell.

Most importantly though, look at the person’s attitude toward selling, enthusiasm for working with customers, and results during their sales career. Chances are you will score a real winner.

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The Digital Doc: Answers to Your Questions About Digital Marketing

Smart Age Solutions takes reader questions about a topic that many jewelers find intimidating.

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IN THIS NEW COLUMN, Smart Age Solutions answers jewelers’ questions about how to use digital marketing on the local level to bring in more customers and make more sales. As the company notes, many jewelers do not yet understand just how much power they have to create a dynamic brand in the digital space.

Do you have a question for the Digital Doc? Send it to digitaldoc@smartagesolutions.com.

Q: I’m really hesitant about putting money into digital ads. I don’t know too much about it and I’m worried I’ll just be wasting money.

A: You are certainly not alone! First, it’s best to do some general research to educate yourself on the basics of digital marketing at the local level. You do not need to become an expert, but it’s important do some preliminary information-gathering before you make a decision. There are many resources online that can give you a basic overview of what you can achieve with different marketing channels (Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Once you’ve done this, start a few conversations with reputable marketing agencies in the industry. These companies can provide you with different packages based on your budget. They can also give you an idea of what activity your marketing dollars will create.

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Q: How do I know if digital marketing is working? When should I expect a sale?

A: The first step in a digital marketing campaign is to declare your goals. The next step is to get as many qualified online shoppers in your community to visit your website so they can explore your products and services. The easiest things to measure are website traffic and telephone calls. If both increase, great! The sales will follow.

Q: I try to get my team to ask our customers for a review or feedback. I know they make us feel all warm and fuzzy, but how do online reviews help my marketing strategy?

A: There are many advantages a great online review provides. Besides the obvious notion that people trust other people’s opinions of products and services,your online reviews can have a significant impact on how you are treated as an advertiser by platforms like Google and Facebook. Google’s logic is simple: The more that consumers interact with a business online, the more legitimate and relevant they are to their community. The rewards that jewelers can expect for great online reviews are better ad placement, more consistent impressions, and lower costs per click to their website. What this means is that Jeweler A with 200 online reviews spending $1,000 can achieve better results for a lower budget than Jeweler B down the street with 10 reviews spending $10,000.

Pro tip: The big advantage to digital marketing is the ability to change your advertisements on the fly. If something about the advertisement isn’t working, you change the message, branding or event details. If you have ever had to pay to re-skin a billboard, print new catalogs or re-record a radio spot, you will know just how valuable it is to have the power to edit advertisements for little to no cost.

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